This semester I have seen a big expansion in my thinking about art and its possibilities:
(a) Input. Before, I was really only looking at painting, but since then a whole world of sculptural and installation-based work has opened up, my previous obsession with Robert Rauschenberg pushed way further - how painting can be a subset of a larger practice, how an idea can be explored in many different mediums, how all these objects interact within a space. (i.e. Sterling Ruby, Oyvind Sørfjordmo.)
(b) Output. Mass-expansion in mediums, a lot of firsts: metal, textile, installation, video, performance, sculpture. realizing that the world is full of not only images, stimuli, but processes that can be used. to try and move through the world energized by this endless possibility, to cultivate curiosity and act on it, to have faith in these processes, and the movement between them.
This expansion was fueled by numerous things:
(a) Professors. The assignments expanded my boundaries immensely, with enough parameters and structure to give leverage vs. the vacuum of total freedom. Each of the four 'subjects' also focused on very different ideas (source material, colour, decision making, the object in space etc.), meaning a step forward in any class was a step forward in all classes. Complimentary, rather than overlapping. Finally, I felt the professors really cared what we came up with, engaged fully and honestly with it, were emotionally invested, so while the 'teaching time' was actually not so much, the sense of being cared about, that our work meant something, was pervasive throughout the time.
(b) Students. An equally powerful expansive force. all these different ways of being and working. seeing where they pushed the assignments, where their knowledge-worlds lead them. seeing them be disciplined, or vulnerable, or wonderfully playful. seeing them take on processes I wouldn't have the patience for, or running around the library with a giant pile of books in a curiosity fit. seeing these values embodied around me makes them seem not so impossible after all.
(c) Theory. The expansion was not only outward, but downward, towards a higher resolution vision. art history, discourse -- but also critique, learning how to talk about your own and others' work. seeing Why a piece tells you something, the physicality of why. how you conjure up whole parts of the world through material, scale, subject, symbol. how others have managed this seance, how to conjure up what you want, and clearly, without interference. the development of a language that is both physical and metaphysical.
However, this expansion was hindered by three main things:
(a) Bad time management. many of my projects were rushed, and/or late. unless I learn to manage my time better, (start earlier, make more iterations, more experiments), my work will never reach the depth and integrity that I am looking for. I need to be driven by curiosity, not cortisol. I thought my ADHD wouldn't matter in art school, but it does.
(b) Bad emotion management. at various points in the semester my productivity was plummeted to zero by excessive doubt, nervousness, stress, depression, comparing myself to others, nostalgia. I lost weeks, months of time! I kindof thought coming to art school would fix my mental health issues, but this is also not the case. These are not productive emotions at all - fear of failure increases the chance of failure.
(c) Bad space management. another barrier to working was my studio spaces. I had no organized system for ideas, past work, source material, so these things crowded my working space into confusion! and this confusion found its way into the work. Need to learn more about feng shui, 'interior architecture', and home storage. Need to separate storage from workspace, church from state.
These barriers give a clear way of moving forward:
(1) ADHD. I have started treatment again through medication, exercise, nutrition, and proper sleep. This will likely have a positive effect on both time- and emotion management. More stripped-down, function orientated spaces will help too.
(2) Increase input. By cultivating curiosity as central emotion, and giving time and space for consistent reading and discussion, I hope to further expand my awareness and vocabulary of contemporary art (and other subjects). This process will also require a clear way of organizing ideas and influences.
(3) Increase output. An action-orientated approach. To turn the above ideas and influences into work. To cultivate the act of responding. Even if it's small. To have energy bouncing between input, output, and rest, so that it amplifies itself. See how high it can go. This ping-pong match. To build up momentum! Energy management, waste management - to find the right frequency - to build a framework that is powerful and efficient, but sustainable over the years.